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Parks and Rec Preview: “Gryzzlbox” and “Save JJ’s” [+ Cast and EP Interview]

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I’m so happy Ron and Leslie are friends again. When this season started and it (quickly) became clear that Ron and Leslie were on the outs, I was confused and more than a little concerned. More than just work proximity associates, I was eager to see these two rekindle their friendship. I may have teared up or outright cried last week when I watched them work through their issues. The fact that Ron was about to ask for a job in the Federal Government — and that Leslie knew how devastating that would’ve been for him — just goes to show how much Leslie and the rest of the gang mean to Ron. Aww. But ten straight hours together of a little bit of talking and a lot of Leslie pulling out all the stops to get to the root of the problem ended well. Now they’re friends forever.

Before I preview tonight’s episodes, I wanted to share some intel from the Parks and Rec panel at this month’s NBC TCAs. They talked about why they chose to end the series now, how they had to change the long-term game plan for Leslie and Ben and some of the (amazing) recurring guest stars.

Parks and Recreation

Why are you ending? Did you come to a decision with NBC and feel like you’d said as much as you wanted to say? Do you have too many other things that you want to do? Might you take a break and then do Congresswoman Knope?

Mike Schur: “Well, we started talking about it at the middle of season 6, I think, like how do we feel? How do we feel? We pretty quickly came to the same exact conclusions. I pitched Amy ‑‑ I usually started every year over the summer by pitching Amy the first half of the season. Then somewhere in the middle of the year, I would pitch her the second half in very rough outline.”

 Amy Poehler: “One of the things I’m going to miss the most is like hearing what’s going to happen to Leslie next year. You know, like we would have a summer discussion about it and Mike would be like, ‘I think she’s going to run for office.’ You knew this was going to happen and I’m going to really miss that.”

Mike: ” Me too.”

Amy: “Maybe we should make it up.”

Mike: “So we just came to the same conclusion which, as we were heading toward the second half of season 6, it was ‘I feel like it’s one more year and I feel like it’s a short year.’ I remember saying that and I remember Amy going, ‘Yeah, I think that’s right.’ That’s just what we felt in our guts was the right move and just purely creatively.

Then we scheduled a big meeting [with] everyone at NBC. This was our dream scenario because we didn’t know whether NBC wanted us back for season 7. We met with our creative executives and took a deep breath and said here is what we would like in a dream world. ‘What we would like is to do season 7. but a 13‑episode season.’ And they went, ‘That sounds great.’ Then we were like, ‘Oh, that was easy.’ Then we talked about the Golden Globes for the next 25 minutes and then we left.

It was just a very natural dovetailing and it was a pure internally generated gut feeling of this feels like the way to go. Then that’s what we got to do. I think every day, especially these days as we’re now editing the last three episodes, it’s causing me again to consider how lucky we’ve been this whole journey and how few people get to be in our position where we get to do what we want and as long as we want and end it on our own terms. We feel very, very fortunate about that.”

Theoretically these people are all now available to make guest appearances on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Mike: “These people aren’t available for anything. This guy has got a million movies lined up. That guy just sold out of Madison Square Garden. This guy is shooting 50 movies.”

Jim O’Heir: “Call my agent. Maybe I can work something out.”

Mike: “That is truly one of the greatest things. This to me is like a crazy lottery ticket, from moment one. I have to say Adam Scott came into it an existing show with two episodes left in season 2 and now the idea of this show existing without him is mind‑boggling to me. That’s a really hard thing to do, to walk into a cast.

Photo Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

Photo Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

He and Rob [Lowe] both, they walked into this cast that already at that point was pretty tightly knit and had a real like good momentum and a really good vibe and comic energy. We watched the first scene we shot and it was like, ‘Oh, they’ve just been here forever.’ That, I think, is one of the biggest reasons the show has lasted as long as it did. The first time that Ben looks at Leslie with something butting up against the idea of romance is in the end of the first episode. He’s been on screen for five total minutes and she walks off and he looks at her and it was like, ‘Yeah, they’re going to get married. That’s very clear.’ We had a much longer, slower game plan for the two of them and then it was like, ‘Oh, no. It’s over. Leslie dating life is over.’

Photo Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

Photo Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

Just everything about the main cast and then also all of the people who contributed so significantly, like Mo Collins. Everything Mo Collins ever did on the show made me laugh as Joan Callamezzo and Jay Jackson who plays Perd and John Blazer and Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm. Every single time we brought someone into the world of the show, it seemed to work.

Kathryn Hahn, who was in a few episodes this year, is a crazy machine gun of comedy, she busts on to the set. She tells 50 jokes in about 30 seconds. There’s an episode this year ‑‑ I won’t explain the circumstances ‑‑ but she busts into Leslie and Ben’s house, and we counted ‑‑ I don’t know what the final edit resulted in ‑‑ but she insults them five times in 20 seconds. ‘Damn their kids, their house,’ just boom. She’s just like throwing crazy haymakers and laughing at herself for how hilarious she’s being and she’s amazing. Just to have had this main cast as a core and then all of those people show up and pop in routinely. Like Rob flew in from Atlanta to shoot for one day this season just because he had a lot of fun.”

Edited for space and content.

Parks and Rec airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.

So, what are we in for tonight?

Photo Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

Photo Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

In “Gryzzlbox, ” Leslie and Ben suspect that Gryzzl is invading the privacy of Pawnee residents. April addresses the new Parks and Rec interns, while Tom helps Andy renegotiate a contract.

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

In “Save JJ’s,” Leslie holds a rally in an attempt to keep JJ’s Diner from closing. Tom surprises Donna with the ultimate pre-wedding gift.

During a community meeting, Leslie poses the question: Is Gryzzl as chill as they claim?

Leslie organizes a rally to save a Pawnee breakfast institution, J.J.’s Diner.

Andy films a Bert Macklin segment with Puppy Hating Dan for his Johnny Karate TV show.

On very special episodes of Andy’s show, Johnny Karate becomes the much more serious Jonathan Karate.

While Leslie and Ben plot to take down Gryzzl, their tech company foe has a surprise for them.

 

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